In early February 2021, social media users shared a story published by a website called Real Raw News that reported without evidence that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had told U.S. President Joe Biden, “Go f— yourself.”
It was a quote fabricated in response to news on Feb. 10, 2021, reported by McClatchy, that the Biden administration was considering travel restrictions within the United States in an effort to mitigate the spread of more contagious mutations of the COVID-19 virus. McClatchy reported:
The Biden administration is considering whether to impose domestic travel restrictions, including on Florida, fearful that coronavirus mutations are threatening to reverse hard-fought progress on the pandemic.
Outbreaks of the new variants — including a highly contagious one first identified in the United Kingdom, as well as others from South Africa and Brazil that scientists worry can evade existing vaccines — have lent urgency to a review of potential travel restrictions within the United States, one federal official said.
DeSantis was described in news media coverage as blasting or attacking the Biden administration in response to the news. And in a Feb. 11 news conference, he made clear he was opposed to talk of possible travel restrictions imposed on Florida, calling it “unconstitutional” and stating, “we will oppose it 100%.”
But there is no evidence that DeSantis swore at Biden by telling him to “go f— yourself.”
The Real Raw News story described in remarkable detail an apparently fictional conference call between DeSantis, Biden, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky, and Anthony Fauci, the head of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has been at the forefront of the U.S. coronavirus pandemic response. We found no evidence that such a phone call took place.
No credible news outlet has reported what would be a remarkable and newsworthy exchange between the Florida governor and the president, had it actually occurred.
DeSantis’ real reaction to the possibility of new travel restrictions was, however, recorded in the following tweet:
The recent report that the Biden administration is considering restricting the travel of Floridians is completely absurd, especially when Biden allows illegal aliens to pour across our southern border. We won’t allow Floridians to be unfairly targeted for political purposes. pic.twitter.com/h47AVuof50
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) February 11, 2021